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Defensive tackle Dominique Easley became a free agent much earlier than expected when the Patriots waived him off their roster two years after drafting him in the first round.
Injuries hindered Easley in New England and his departure from the team was followed by an anonymous former teammate calling Easley a “locker room cancer” who was “disrespectful and irresponsible.” Easley has since signed with the Rams and took a chance to hit back at those whispers during an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Phil Savage and Amber Theoharis.
Easley said that he considers those comments “rumors” because he doesn’t know who made them and whether the opinion came from someone who really knows Easley. Easley said his main goals for the coming year don’t include changing any negative image of him that may be in place, but he also said he wants the Rams to have a different opinion of him.
“It’s really just, hopefully, that the Rams get to see what a great person and a great, hard worker I am and, really, just a great person,” Easley said.
Showing he’s a great person would be a good thing, but Easley’s long-range career prospects will look a lot rosier if he can also show that he can stay healthy and productive for an entire season.
Wide receiver Mike Wallace is coming off of the least productive year of his NFL career and he admitted recently that the speed that made him a star with the Steelers early in his career has slipped.
Wallace thinks he’s lost “maybe just a step, a half a step” from those days, which were also his most effective days as a professional wideout. Two years with the Dolphins and a year with the Vikings saw Wallace making fewer plays down the field than he did in his Pittsburgh heyday, which explains why he’ll be on his third team in as many years when he puts on a Ravens uniform this fall.
While Wallace acknowledges his speed might not be what it once was, he’s not bearish on the rest of his game. Wallace believes he’s polished the rest of his game over the year and that the fruits of that labor will present themselves this season.
“I think I’ve gotten better, even though [the] numbers don’t say so,” Wallace said, via ESPN.com. “I think I’ll get better this year, and I’ll show some people I have a lot up my sleeve.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said “you can do anything” with Wallace, which suggests the team plans to give him a chance to show he can succeed as more than a deep threat. Based on their results through the air last season and Wallace’s production in Minnesota, that development would work out well for both team and player.
The news that current NFL players have found a way to stay out of trouble comes with a curious footnote: For whatever reason, a rash of former or otherwise not currently employed players have been finding trouble in recent days.
It started with former NFL receiver Davone Bess, who could have ended up with much more than a dog bite on his arm after a lengthy standoff with police in Arizona.
Then came former NFL tight end Richard Gordon. He was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend. The far more troubling news came from the reality that he had an AR-15 in his car and harbored plans to shoot up a strip club.
Next was former NFL cornerback Stanley Wilson II, who was shot while both trying to break into a home and naked. (Apparently, he visited other homes before he happened upon a homeowner who also owns a gun.)
The week was capped by free-agent NFL quarterback Tarvaris Jackson allegedly pointing a gun at his wife and threatening to kill her. Jackson was freed on $2,500 bond, a decision that hopefully came after the relevant authorities concluded that Jackson would do harm neither to his wife nor anyone else.
Maybe it’s just a fluke occurrence, a confluence of bizarre events that happened all in the same week. Regardless, it should be cause for concern for the league. The events become newsworthy for obvious reasons; the men accused of wrongdoing played in the NFL, so the NFL gets mentioned every time something like this happens.
Surely, resources are available to help former players who need it. First they need to want the help. And then they need to know specifically how to get the help.
Hopefully the guys who were arrested last week will get the help they need, along with any other former NFL players who may otherwise be destined for a similar outcome.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn is content to let others use their brains.
He’s trusting a different body part when it comes to his decisions about going for two-point conversions or fourth downs.
“Sometimes, it’s gut,” Quinn said of the call, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Falcons went 8-8 last year, losing five games by four points or fewer. But they only went for the two-point conversion after three of their 38 touchdowns, converting one. The Steelers led the league with 11 attempts, and are openly lobbying to do it more often.
But Quinn’s not sure he’s ready to go that far.
“How many things are they going to do from the 2-yard line?’” Quinn said. “You score 50 touchdowns. What 50 two-point plays are you running from there? . . .
“Like most things, knowing when you have an advantage, take it. Those guys like Mike [Tomlin], Sean [Payton] and Mike McCarthy are three coaches that I really respect a lot. If they have a decision about it, I’ll respect that. It might not be ours at the time. But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect it.”
The Falcons have tried to beef up their analytics department to funnel more information to Quinn. But he’s still not sounding convinced it’s a cure-all.
“There is a time for it,” Quinn said. “Real information and knowledge is power. But at the same time, it’s feel. The shift of the game may feel differently.”
But after a year of close losses, the Falcons may feel differently this year.
A positive take on the Bills’ offensive plans.
More than 1,300 players took part in a Dolphins-hosted 7-on-7 tournament over the weekend.
A projection of the Patriots’ 53-man roster.
The five biggest moves of the Titans offseason.
Who are the top safeties in Broncos history?
Raiders rookies learned more than playbooks in the last couple of months.
The 1963 Chargers are waiting for company on the organization’s list of champions.
A running list of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ best offseason quotes.
Where might the Giants make an addition to the roster?
Redskins coach Jay Gruden and owner Dan Snyder got a picture with Axl Rose at Sunday’s Guns N’ Roses concert.
How will the Falcons approach extra points this season?
Where do the Panthers rank among the league’s best receiving groups?
The Rams have gotten to work in their new community.
Before he was shot while doing some naked breaking and entering last week, former Lions cornerback Stanley Wilson II had targeted three other homes — at least one of them while clothed.
According to Aimee Green of the Oregonian, Wilson was shot while breaking into the home of 78-year-old Robert McCall.
Police found the Stanford graduate naked in the back yard. He remains hospitalized, but is scheduled to appear in court today to hear charges of one felony count of first-degree burglary, one misdemeanor count of first-degree criminal trespass and two misdemeanor counts of second-degree criminal trespass.
The shooting happened last Wednesday afternoon, after he had been in at least one other home. The homeowner said Wilson stuck his head in her door after entering through the garage, but left without incident.
“He said, ‘Do you need anything?'” the woman said. “I said, ‘No, what are you doing in my garage?’ And then he said, ‘Isn’t this where I’m supposed to be?’ I said, ‘No.'”
She said Wilson was nicely dressed and polite, though she thought it unusual he wasn’t wearing shoes. That was apparently only the beginning of his neighborhood walkabout, and he lost clothing as he went.
It’s a strange story, fitting with a family tradition. His father once missed a Super Bowl because coaches found him doing cocaine in a hotel bathroom the night before the game.
The NFL plans to send investigators to the first day of Steelers training camp to interview linebacker James Harrison about allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs. Harrison says other ideas.
In a statement he posted on Instagram, Harrison said he’ll give an interview, but only if Commissioner Roger Goodell shows up at his house to do it.
“I never had a bully before in my life and I’m DAMN sure not about to have one at this point. But since I’m a nice guy & don’t mind helping to clear the air in the name of the NFL Shield, I’ll do this interview,” Harrison wrote. “WITH THESE STIPULATIONS: The interview will be done at MY house. BEFORE training camp. On a date of MY choosing. AND Mr. Goodell must be present.”
Harrison has said many derogatory things about Goodell, including, “I hate him and will never respect him.” Goodell probably won’t be taking Harrison up on the invitation to his house.
What’s clear is that the NFL’s investigation of the Al Jazeera documentary about performance-enhancing drugs is a long way from over. The other players accused in that documentary — Peyton Manning, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Mike Neal — are also subject to the NFL’s investigation. Those players, however, haven’t made comments as inflammatory as Harrison’s.
When Lions quarterback said last week that the Lions might be tougher to cover without retired wide receiver Calvin Johnson, it sounded like the thing a quarterback has to say.
But Johnson, at least, believes he has a point.
The former Lions wideout suggested that others might not have always taken advantage of the double-teams he drew, and the element of mystery could work to their advantage.
“Well, I felt like it should have been easier because they were going to double me a lot of the time, especially in certain situations, so it’s breakout time for somebody to make something happen,” Johnson said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “One on one, that’s what you want. So, put it like this year, I don’t know who if anybody’s going to get double-teamed, so I think they have the playmakers. So if Matt can get them the ball, they make the plays, they can be good, man.”
Johnson still led the Lions with 1,214 yards on 88 receptions last year, showing it wasn’t his play that was holding them back.
They added wide receiver Marvin Jones in free agency, and they’re hoping they get more from tight end Eric Ebron, but at the moment, being better without one of the best wideouts in the recent history of the NFL seems more like a wish than a plan.
The annual Hall of Fame ceremony is coming soon, which means that the new class of inductees soon will be giving their speeches. One of those guys who will be speaking seems to be getting a little anxious about that.
“At some point, I have to start preparing a speech — which I am not good at doing,” Favre said at an appearance at a golf course in Wisconsin on Sunday, via Jason Wilde of ESPN.com. “It’s closing fast. As we get older, we find that time flies. That’s the case here. It seems like yesterday I was just preparing for [returning to] Green Bay this past summer. It’ll be here quick.”
Preparing the speech isn’t difficult, especially when a guy has the money and/or the connections to get help in putting thoughts together. The key will be to deliver the speech as written without riffing or improvising or filibustering. Keep it simple, keep it short, come up with a few good lines, wave, smile, and sit.
It’s been argued that new Hall of Famers are entitled to drone on and on if they choose to do so. To the extent, however, that the speeches are part of a live TV show and not recorded and edited to trim out much of the droning on and on, the goal should be not to talk and talk and talk in the hopes of eventually tripping over something memorable but to come up with something memorable ahead of time, practice the delivery, walk up to the podium in that new gold jacket, and nail it.
The Seahawks gave former NBA player Nate Robinson a look-see not that long ago, and coach Pete Carroll made it clear that it won’t be easy for Robinson to make it in the NFL. To his credit, that hasn’t stopped him from trying.
Via Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com, Robinson continues to work out in the hopes of making it to the NFL. He’s been training with former Arkansas State receiver Dwayne Frampton. (Chris Berman perhaps would say that Frampton is showing Robinson the way.)
Although Carroll said it will be “all but impossible” for Robinson to make it in the NFL, Carroll admitted that “if anyone could it might be Nate.”
Here’s hoping Nate keeps trying. Too many people like to talk about all the things they could do if they truly wanted to. It’s nice to see someone try, regardless of whether he ultimately succeeds.
The NFL has taken a hard line over the last decade when it comes to players who get into trouble away from the field. Changes to the Personal Conduct Policy in 2007 had an impact, but even more changes (including the introduction of paid leave) sparked by 2014 incidents involving Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, and Adrian Peterson seemed to get the attention of most players.
Arrests are still happening, but not with the same frequency — as indicated by a “days without an arrest” meter that often gets well into the 20s, 30, and 40s between incidents. The fact that the number currently sits at 26 in the break between the end of offseason programs and the opening of training camps shows that players who are left to their own devices are avoiding trouble better than they once did.
There have been nine players arrests since January 1. Last year, there were 13 in the first half of the year. Two years ago, there were 21. In 2013, the number was 29.
It’s not just an offseason phenomenon. At one point last season, more than two months passed between arrests of any of the roughly 2,000 players on rosters or practice squads.
That’s real progress, a testament to the arguably heavy-handed (but apparently effective) efforts of the NFL to beef up the consequences for players accused of wrongdoing. So while viable arguments remain regarding the ability of the Commissioner to serve as a truly fair and impartial arbitrator of disciplinary decisions made by the league office, the current system seems to be working. Well.
There’s been plenty of news lately about the eventually-to-be-opened-Falcons stadium, and not much of it good.
The whole cheap-beer-and-hot-dog news was good. The whole $200-million-more-in-change-orders wasn’t good. The $172-million-in-money-for-nothing news was good for the team but not for the folks who have to buy the right to actually sit in the seats that go with their tickets.
Here’s another nugget that wouldn’t be good news for anyone: The Falcons haven’t ruled out the possibility that the stadium won’t be ready for the team’s 2017 preseason games.
“We would have options,” Falcons CEO Rich McKay said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “You’ve obviously got the University of Georgia. You’ve got Georgia Tech. But I wouldn’t say that we view this as . . . it’s not even a consideration of something we’ve looked into. We’re very confident in June 1, so we don’t view it as a problem. But we have alternatives.”
One alternative won’t be the team’s current home, the Georgia Dome.
“It will not be an option,” McKay said. “It will be on its way down.”
McKay also pointed out that another possibility would be to play all of the preseason games on the road, something the Buccaneers did when their current stadium opened in 1997.
The team still fully expects that the stadium will be ready to go on June 1, the new date that replaced the prior date (in which they presumably had full confidence) of March 1. If it isn’t ready for the preseason, however, it apparently won’t be a problem.
If it isn’t ready for the regular season, that would probably be a problem.
Giants rookie receiver Roger Lewis wasn’t drafted, quite possibly due not to talent but an off-field issue that nearly landed him in prison.
Charged as a high-school student with two counts of rape arising from incidents with the same alleged victim that occurred 36 days apart in December 2011 and January 2012, Lewis eventually landed at Bowling Green and did well enough to get a shot to make an NFL roster.
“Things had to make me stronger as a 18-year-old going through hard times,” Lewis told the New York Post. “I think I feel very prepared because, you know, situations make or break you.”
The situation nearly broke him. Acquitted by a jury on one rape charge, the jury couldn’t agree on a verdict as to the second charge. With a second trial on that charge approaching, Lewis pleaded guilty to providing false information to police.
“All this, everything that’s happening, is just God blessing me with just the little things,” Lewis said. “Just reminding myself that I’m an undrafted free agent. . . . I have to play with a chip on my shoulder every day.”
His new boss has noticed.
“He’s a guy that has a chip on his shoulder, doesn’t say much and goes about his business the right way,” coach Ben McAdoo told the Post. “He’s businesslike, and we like that about him.”
It still won’t be easy for Lewis to make the climb from 90 to 53.
“[It will be] a huge learning curve from the system he was in in college to what he’s asked to do here,” offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan told the Post. “We’ve seen some good things from Roger, and we’re excited to have him in the mix.”
Lewis has a long way to go to become the team’s next Victor Cruz. The more attention he receives, the more people will notice the fact that he was a hung jury away from going to prison for rape.
The Eagles have said they’re going to be patient with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. They may be so patient that Wentz doesn’t even put on his uniform for a game this season.
With Sam Bradford slated to open the season as the starter and Chase Daniel penciled in at No. 2, Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice reports that there’s a very good chance Wentz won’t be active on game days.
Many teams only suit up two quarterbacks on game days now that the NFL has eliminated the “emergency quarterback” rule. So if Bradford and Daniel are both healthy, that could leave Wentz in street clothes.
Of course, that’s assuming things go according to plan and Bradford plays well and stays healthy. Given that Bradford has often not played well and not stayed healthy, there’s no guarantee things will go according to plan for the Eagles.
And teams have proclaimed in the past that they were going to give a rookie quarterback a “redshirt” year, only to change that plan. Two years ago, the Jaguars spent the entire offseason insisting that first-round rookie quarterback Blake Bortles would spend his rookie season on the bench. That grand plan lasted until Week Three.
If Bradford struggles or gets hurt, or if the Eagles are out of contention late in the season, it’s likely that Wentz would get some playing time. But as of now, the plan is to bury Wentz on the depth chart and let him learn from the bench.
The Jets and linebacker Darron Lee have yet to agree to terms on a contract. The Jets don’t seem to be concerned about it, probably because they’re too busy being thrilled with how Lee conducted himself during the offseason program. (With the exception of that time he tackled a guy in non-contact practice.)
“He’s been a pleasant surprise, Jets linebackers coach Mike Caldwell said, via Darryl Slater of NJ.com. “He’s been picking things up well. What we saw on film, what we saw in college, he’s been showing it.”
The “pleasant surprise” comes mainly from Lee’s professionalism.
“He comes into meetings and he’s hungry to learn,” Caldwell said. “Sometimes you see rookies that think they know it all. He’s eager to learn and he’s soaking it all up and the older guys are helping him. That’s a surprising part of it.”
“It’s a good situation for [Lee] because he has a personality that will accept other guys’ opinions and other guys’ knowledge,” Caldwell said. “David has a great deal of knowledge and so does Erin. He’s in a great situation because he can come in and learn behind those guys.”
It may not be long before he’s in front of one or both of those guys.